A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this series addresses emotional and practical issues that preschoolers face as they grow up and teaches them how to deal with theses issues (partly by relying on friends). The series sends the positive message that while growing up can be challenging, it's also lots of fun, and the musical and storytelling components provide a comforting element.
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- Kids say
What's the story?
PBS's enchanting series MUSTARD PANCAKES features Courtney Campbell, a gifted songwriter, singer, guitarist, and storyteller who shares her cozy home with four lovable, childlike puppet pets: scruffy, sensitive Oogleberry Ink Dog, free-spirited beagle Tina, playful Chocolate Labrador Mo, and snooty cat Mr. D. The five friends play games, sing, tell stories, and learn to face life's daily challenges. In each episode, the pet friends work together to solve a particular problem with guidance from Courtney. She sings a song and tells stories related to the issue at hand, and the puppets usually act out one of the stories. At the end of each episode, Oogleberry writes down his thoughts about the day's lesson in his journal. Then, Courtney talks about an object she received in the mail (which usually pertains to the episode's theme), points out its origin on a globe, shares fascinating tidbits about the place and encourages viewers to read more about it.
Is it any good?
Campbell is a glowing, comforting presence on the show, imparting her captivating stories and simple but affecting songs (about the joys of childhood, emotional growth, relying on friends, and more) with an easy, natural style that draws the viewer in. The puppet animals are endearing, expressive, and fun to watch -- especially when they act out stories in funny getups. (In one episode, they dressed as tadpoles, with their furry muzzles hilariously sticking out from the tight, wetsuit-like costumes.)
Mustard Pancakes is a wonderful way for kids to learn about the practical aspects of everyday life and how to deal with the various emotions they may experience. The show also celebrates music and the art of storytelling and gets children excited to find out about different places in the world. And practical, emotional, and educational elements aside, watching Mustard Pancakes feels like getting a warm bear hug or sitting in a big, comfy chair.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the theme of each episode and how the characters presented it. What problem or challenge did Courtney and her animal friends help each other with? Which character or characters were struggling with the problem? Have you ever felt the same way? What were Courtney's stories about? What did you learn from them? What was her song about? What did you learn from it? What city or country did Courtney talk about at the end of the episode? What did you learn about that place?
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